15 Mar

I’ll Never Be Mother of the Year

Laying in bed perusing blogs I read a post about a woman’s right to choose. I had to physically force myself to politely finish reading other’s comments before racing to my keyboard to unleash the thoughts exploding in my mind. I wanted to respond but what I had to say deserved its own post. So far, I’ve rewritten this opening paragraph five times. I can’t wrap my head around exactly what my heart wants to convey so let me start at the beginning.

I’ll never forget my dad’s reaction when he found out I was pregnant. I was sitting cross-legged on the dining room chair waiting as my mom relayed the message to him in the background. I was 80 miles away but could clearly hear him say “I don’t think she’s ready.” He was 41 and I was the youngest of his wife’s three children. If anyone knew what it meant to be ready to parent it was him.

Shortly after my 21st birthday, I was standing alone in my apartment attempting to complete the last step of some simple instructions. “Reach in and push down on the center of the Pack & Play” seemed easy enough but with a belly the size of Montana the effort proved futile. And as I clutched the sides of that damned contraption, prepared to launch it through the plate-glass window, defeat shown in my reflection.

And the truth cut deep. I didn’t want kids. I knew it at 14 when my little brother was born. I knew it at 15 when my boyfriend’s ex showed up on my doorstep – his baby on her hip – running her mouth. I knew it at 16 when I realized my best friend’s father had been molesting her for years. I knew it at 17 when I helped a friend tell her mom she was going to be a grandma – again. I knew it at 18 when I joined the military. And at 19 when the medic told me I had to consider an alternative to the Depo shot soon I was still certain I would never, ever have children.

But at 20 years old I pissed pink and my whole life changed.

Now, before you think this is a story of a naive girl who didn’t know herself well enough to make a rash decision let me stop you. The point I’d like to make straight away is that my friend Katie is spot on when she says:

But there’s another group of women who, I can almost guarantee, suffer even more scorn than the woman who misses her kid’s birthday party to attend a staff meeting or the woman who trades in her satin work pumps for plastic breast pumps: It’s the woman who has the guilt-free ability to join her co-workers for a cocktail after a rough day. The woman who has time to work out in the morning. The woman who can cook an amazing, stress-free meal and enjoy eating it with her significant other at 8:00 p.m.

…but there’s yet another category of women that I fall into. Women who follow through with the unplanned pregnancy eagerly anticipating their baby’s soft skin and sweet smelling head. Only, that instinctual mother-child bond doesn’t appear and instead we become women who have no desire to listen to our friends drone on about their baby’s latest developments or discuss those of our own. We scoff at the doctor’s recommendation not to return to work after only 4 weeks of maternity leave and resent having to miss meetings to attend to a sick child. A decade later we still have this miniature person following after us wondering when will this madness end???

Somewhere between the Supermom and the SAHM is the WTFH Mom. I could be their poster child. And as far as scorn goes? It’s all self-inflicted because our true feelings are hidden. I don’t know of too many women who openly admit to hating being mothers.

And because I know at least one of you is thinking it – abortion was never an option. I have no self-righteous religious or political reasons, it just wasn’t ever something I considered. I honestly thought I would fall in love with motherhood once it happened. I’m still waiting.

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Just the other day over cocktails I told my best friend that I could be that mom that walks away and leaves her child behind. It was especially hard to admit this to her since that’s exactly what her own mother had done. But you know what? She turned out fine and is a better mom than I am.

It’s funny when people assume I’ve stopped working to stay at home with my son. He’s 15, why on earth would I choose to stay home with him now? No, I chose to have a child and be a working mom. What I didn’t chose was to be bad at it. Would things be different if I hadn’t worked and had stayed home? I don’t think so.

Sometimes even when you choose motherhood it doesn’t choose you.

The truth is I quit being a mom a while ago and settled in to ‘babysitter mode’. And it works. My son is a pretty good kid and capable of doing for himself. I hang out on the sidelines offering supervisory guidance but I’m not ‘that mom’. I gave up trying to be.

It seems he and I are both counting down the next 3 years and looking forward to getting on with our lives. When, at age 39, I’m pretty sure I still won’t want kids.

~Dee

Please read the post that inspired me to come clean. I know it will be of value to many of you.

15 thoughts on “I’ll Never Be Mother of the Year

  1. I have several child-less friends who have openly admitted similar feelings. I admire people who not only know who they are, but don't conform to societies "expectations." The size of families are getting smaller and childless couples are on the rise for a reason.

    Well written!:)

  2. Jesus Dee! You really are one powerful person. This kind of reflection takes balls (the hell with the judgement witches) and an inner strength that I wish more of us could share. Somehow, I suspect, your son is one lucky young man. You rock Gal!

  3. At least you are honest and do what works for your family. It's kind of like anything else – there's an array of skills and interests and abilities. I love being a mom but I often feel like I'm not doing the best I could be.

  4. Wow. This is a really brave post. Good for you. I don't have kids, but I'm sure you can't be alone in this, even if almost no one will admit it. I think your honestly is beautiful though, and I'm sure your son will benefit from and respect you for it. Kids know what fake looks like and it sounds like you aren't it. Try not to be too hard on yourself. It sounds like you and your son are doing fine.

    • Thanks Stephanie. It does surprise me when he says I'm a good mom. I don't know if it was brave to post, it was just how I felt after reading Katie's awesome post and wanted to add to it. I agree with her and wonder why women feel the need to judge other women and their decisions on parenting.

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  6. i wanted to be a mother more then anything on earth. i have 4 boys and i suck at it…i tried hard..i did all i was suppose to do, and i didn't do it right. i wish my mom had told me what it's really like..how sometimes you hate them..how they can break your heart…and look at you..your kid sounds great..so who knows

    • You know, thinking back to growing up the kids who seemed to have perfect parents wound up being worse adults than I could have imagined…I bet you don't suck half as much as you think. 🙂

  7. I think you're very brave for writing what you wrote, and it's definitely a message that needs to be heard. But the way I see it, your powerful and emotional piece only further supports what I wrote. Maybe, if you had known motherhood was a choice, you wouldn't have assumed you'd like it one day. Maybe you would have given your boy up for adoption. Maybe your life would be entirely different now, and maybe you wouldn't have suffered for years beneath your own silent ridicule.

    Also, for what it's worth: Because you did it anyway — because you stepped up to the plate, put your own needs second, and sacrificed so much of yourself to raise your son, I think you might be a better mother than you think. You may not have wanted it, but you did it anyway and have managed to raise a happy, healthy boy. I think that makes you a pretty incredible woman.

    • I agree with Kate, the fact that you DID keep him, and have known when to walk away makes you a stronger mother than you believe. It takes A LOT of courage and it also takes LOVE to know that your child might be better off with someone else than you. Most women can't do that. Most women, myself included, are SELFISH and can't comprehend life without their kids, not for the kids but for themselves. They might not be able to offer their child what he/she needs but they keep them or stay because they can't let go. My dad left. I was angry for years, but you know what? The best thing he ever did for us was LEAVE. He was a terrible father (You are far better than him as a parent but also as a person, and you ARE sweet and kind), and he was selfish every time he came back into my life just to lead me on. So, don't feel guilty. Don't let ANYONE make you feel guilty. You ARE braver and better than most women I know, myself included. <3

      • No one makes me feel guilty, really. I just run a different kind of household than most moms. I’m lucky to have a husband who agrees with my parenting style. (Probably because he never wanted kids either.) I guess I’ll see exactly how much damage we’ve done in a few years when the boy branches out on his own. Anyone who pretends to know how well they have parented before their kids are 30 years old is just fooling themselves.

    • I find solace in the fact that you and I could (if we wanted to & lived closer to each other) hang out at a swanky bar, sipping martinis, gossiping about people who gave up their souls to bare children without paying a sitter or having to call home to check-in. But, we wouldn't because we would rather discuss your latest expedition or the fab menu options or upcoming YouTube phenoms – because it's not our style to waste time judging other's life choices.

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